Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pasture Management of Parasites

by Sue Beck


With our days getting longer and our pastures getting greener, many of us are looking forward to being able to put our goats out on grass. But with the fresh new leaves of spring come one of the biggest threats to our herds’ health – parasites.

During the winter, the parasite eggs in your pastures go dormant, and pose very little risk of infecting our goats, making it the ideal time to get parasite problems under control. Now is the time when you should be testing fecal samples and treating accordingly, or using a broad spectrum dewormer to eradicate the parasites currently in your goats. If you can begin the summer with a clean herd, you will end it with a clean pasture.

In a recent presentation, Dr. Donald Bliss, founder and owner of MidAmerica Ag Research, recommended the following procedure to eradicate parasites in your herd:

Mid-late winter

1. Use Safeguard at the rate of 7.5 mg/kg spread over 3 days, then give Cydectin cattle pour-on dewormer orally (1 cc/ 20 pounds) on day 4.

2. Check random fecal samples 7-10 days after deworming.

3. Retreat if necessary, using wormer specific to the worms your goats still have.

4. Continue this process until your samples are free of parasites.

Early spring (as soon as the grass starts to grow):

1. Treat your herd with Safeguard at the rate of 7.5 mg/kg spread over 3 days.

2. Wait three weeks and retreat with Safeguard again.

3. Wait three weeks and treat with Cydectin as above (1 cc/ 20 pounds).

Timing is critical in this process. Parasite larva load is extremely high in the spring as dormant eggs begin to hatch, but by June, almost all these eggs have hatched and emerged. By treating aggressively at the beginning of the grazing season, you eradicate almost all existing larva from your pasture. If your goats are not dropping new eggs, the rate at which they become reinfested with parasites should decrease dramatically, and continue to decrease each year until they are virtually nonexistent in your herd. Just remember – if you can get your goats worm-free in winter and your pastures worm-free in spring, the rest of your year will be trouble free, too!

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